Rural round-up

23/09/2021

Think about us – Rural News:

The dairy sector has a simple message for the Government – please take our plight seriously.

Frustration is rife among farmers because the Government seems to be paying lip service to a crucial sector that has kept the company’s economy buzzing for the past 18 months.

Like most primary producers, dairy farmers have been crying out for more overseas workers. However, it’s becoming clear that the Government isn’t genuine about helping dairy farmers.

In June, the Government announced that it will grant border exceptions for 200 dairy farm workers and their families, comprising 150 herd managers or assistant farm managers and 50 farm assistants for critical-need areas only. Within that announcement they specified that herd managers be paid a salary of $79,500 and assistant managers a salary of $92,000 per annum. . .

Councils weigh pest impact – Neal Wallace:

Numbers of pests and game animals are rapidly increasing in parts of the country, regional councils report.

Successive mild seasons, reduced hunter pressure and growing resistance to rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD), is leading to increased numbers of deer, goats, wallabies and rabbits in many areas.

The Otago Regional Council’s (ORC) environmental implementation manager Andrea Howard says rabbit density differs across the region, but remains high in parts of Central Otago.

“Several factors influence rabbit populations, including lack of consistent control – and secondary control – by landowners, the naturally reducing impact of introduced viruses, climate change, land-use change, urban spread into historically rabbit-prone rural land and associated reduction in available control tools,” Howard said. . .

Escalating women leaders :

To be a good leader, you have to first know your ‘why’, says Ravensdown shareholder and Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Escalator programme graduate Donna Cram.

“For me it is to connect people across agricultural communities using values-based communication to empower collaboration.”

Cram, a dairy farmer at Wylan Dene farm near Awatuna in South Taranaki, was one of 14 women chosen by AWDT to take part in their annual Escalator programme. It gives women in the food and fibre sector “the mindsets, skills and connections to lead, govern and inspire”.

Cram says the experience has helped her understand more about her own leadership qualities. . . 

Business grew from quest for flooring :

A business was born when some West Otago dairy farmers were floored by a problem.

White River Holstein Friesians owners Paul and Kyllee Henton struggled to find suitable flooring for their 600-cow wintering shed on their 171ha farm in Kelso.

The fruitless search motivated them to research, develop and manufacture their own flooring solution of heavy duty interlocking rubber mats.

They run their mat company Agri-Tech Imports alongside their 580-cow herd operation.

Mrs Henton, a registered veterinarian, said they had run the farm for 15 years after entering an equity partnership with her parents to buy the property. . . 

Tackling challenges of cheese foe decades – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Plucked from the lab and picked for his first production supervisor’s role in his early 20s, Richard Gray has been saying cheese for 23 years.

From test tubes to testing himself in leadership, Fonterra’s general manager of operations for the lower South Island is helping steer the dairy giant through perilous pandemic times.

Based at Edendale in Southland, Mr Gray said it had more or less been business as usual through the alert levels.

‘‘From the supply chain point of view there has been disruption with delays or longer lead time to deliver, but we’re still exporting well. But it’s the timing, having to adjust some of the production planning processes to allow for that longer lead time.’’ . .

Pocket knife fine sparks alarm – Chris McLennan:

Rural Australians have reacted with alarm over a fine dished out to a Queensland man for carrying a pocket knife.

Wayne McLennan, aged 75, was last week fined $100 for unlawful possession of a weapon because of a small pocket knife he carried in a pouch on his belt.

Many country people right around Australia wear the same, either a knife or a multi-tool, not for self-defence but for the hundreds of daily chores they may be called on to do while remote on their properties.

As one farmer said on social media last night, strapping his Leatherman to his belt in the morning was as automatic as pulling on his boots. . .


Rural round-up

11/09/2021

No sector agreement on new methane target – David Anderson:

Despite agreement among farm industry bodies that the current methane targets for the sector are excessive, not based on science and need to be changed, there is currently no plan in place to achieve this.

That’s the claim of agricultural consultant Steven Cranston, following a recent meeting of pan sector voices with Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel and Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard.

Cranston says one of the main concerns raised at the meeting, organised by North Otago farmer Jane Smith and held in Wellington last month, was the lack of a coherent strategy to get the methane emissions reduction target reduced (currently 24 to 47% by 2050). . . 

Visa frustrations push Timaru dairy worker towards Australia – Chris Tobin:

Ariel Ocon has been working on South Island dairy farms for 13 years, but visa frustrations have him seriously considering heading to Australia with his family.

“To stay here legally I had to apply for a work to residence visa. They (Immigration NZ) said you will wait for 16 months from the time you applied. I applied in 2019, and I’m still waiting,” Ocon, who works on a farmer near Timaru, said.

“I just received an email from them saying in two months they would allocate a case officer to process my application. I still haven’t got a case officer.”

Ocon’s frustration comes as Australia has provided financial incentives attempting to attract New Zealand immigrant dairy workers to relocate there. Ocon knows other Filipino workers who have already opted to leave. . . 

Animal welfare crisis looms as Minister butchers opportunity :

An animal welfare crisis is looming as Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor fails to pay attention to what’s going on around him, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“Last year, during the first Covid lockdown, the Government spent $5.8 million buying 12,000 pig carcasses from overstocked farms and donating them to charity.

“If they hadn’t done this, we would have had an animal welfare problem of significant scale on our hands.

“Now the issue is looming again in this current lockdown and Minister O’Connor is missing in action.

“The Government’s stubborn refusal to allow butcher shops to open during all Covid levels is based on the reasoning that they are riskier than standing in a queue, or shopping at, supermarkets and dairies. . . 

Native trees to be planted on unusable forestry land to protect waterways – Bonnie Flaws:

One of the country’s largest forestry plantation owners, Aratu Forests, has signed a 90-year agreement with eLandNZ to plant native trees on unusable land, creating permanent buffers alongside waterways.

The partnership, brokered by law firm Anderson Lloyd, plans to stop forestry waste, such as logs, from being washed into waterways by planting native trees on otherwise unusable stretches of land across 33,000 hectares of forestry plantation, mostly in the Gisborne region, forestry law specialist Dan Williams​ said.

About 170 ha of riparian land would be planted this year, according to the eLandNZ website. . . 

Avocado exports face headwinds this year – Hugh Stringleman:

Avocado growers have been told to expect substantial falls in orchard gate returns (OGR) for their fruit harvested this spring and summer, mainly because of avocado oversupply in Australia.

The average price per 5.5kg tray across all sizes will be well down on the average OGRs for the past five years of $23 for fruit that was exported.

Last season was particularly good for growers, who received $26/tray and $42,000/ha OGR across slightly more than 4000ha in production, half of which is in Bay of Plenty.

Primor chief executive John Carroll says the new export season began on September 1, with some air freight to Asian markets and the first shipments to Australian supermarkets. Primor is a partner in the joint venture company Avoco, the majority exporter of avocados. .

No waster farm to plate – Rebecca Fox:

After his first visit to Queenstown, chef Ryan Henley said to himself  that is where he would retire to. But he has not had to wait that long, Rebecca Fox discovers.

Ryan Henley has his butcher’s knife out and is about to start cutting up a side of wagyu beef that has just arrived.

It is an unusual sight in a hotel kitchen to see a 400kg side of beef lying there.

But Henley would not have it any other way. His new job as executive chef at QT Queenstown means he can call the shots.

That means following his no-wastage, farm-to-plate ethos and dealing direct with producers, preferably as local as possible. . .

 

Farm alarm as more taxes spent launching another fake meat company – Chris McLennan:

Another big government authority has spent millions of taxpayer money to launch a fake meat company.

This time it is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which has spent $5 million to support Sydney-based startup All G Foods through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

All G Foods plans to soon have plant-based and alternative proteins on the shelves of national supermarket chain IGA including mince, sausages, chicken, bacon and animal-free dairy products.

The new company won $16 million in seed funding. . .


Rural round-up

05/09/2021

MIQ freeze adds to staff woes – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to freeze managed isolation (MIQ) bookings has furthered the frustration of short-staffed dairy farmers desperate for more workers, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says.

The freeze means a further delay for farmers getting migrant staff into New Zealand granted under the exemption for 200 foreign dairy workers announced earlier this year. The industry estimates it is short of at least 2000 staff.

Mackle says it was unlikely these staff would be now cleared of MIQ before the new year. Any people who are brought in to work in the dairy industry will now be targeted for next season.

“This pause, this further delay is going to push that out even further,” Mackle said. . . 

Red meat and co-products exports reach $870 million :

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $870 million during July 2021 – marking a 29% increase year-on-year, according to analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

More than 25,300 tonnes of sheepmeat and almost 50,000 tonnes of beef were exported with increases in the value of exports to all major North American and Asian markets.

This included a 1,425% increase in beef exports to Thailand compared to July 2020. Thailand was New Zealand’s tenth largest market for beef by volume during the month, at 347 tonnes.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the main reason for the growth in exports to Thailand was the removal of beef safeguards that were put in place when the NZ-Thailand Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) was negotiated 15 years ago. . . 

A stirring idea – Samantha Tennent:

Keeping colostrum stirred was a challenge for a Southland calf rearer until he came with an innovative idea.

Frustrated after running around with a drill and paint stirrer trying to stop stored colostrum from separating, Rex Affleck was looking for an easier solution. He found a pricey food industry mixer in Europe, but the paddle was tiny and the revs were too quick so he started thinking about what he really needed.

“I found a supplier in China that made engine gearboxes and they agreed to sell me a sample,” Affleck explains.

“Two turned up on my doorstep but I didn’t know what to do next. So, I started thinking and mucking around with bits of cardboard and worked out how it could sit on top of a pod, but the next issue was the paddles.” . . 

FMG Young Farmer of the Year kicks off for season 54:

The coveted FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 contest will be kicking off with a roar on the 9th of October 2021 for season 54’s first qualifying rounds.

This year, all New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) Club members are being challenged to enter to support their region’s volunteers, have a bit of fun and show their fellow Club members what they’re made of.

16 district contests will be held across the country over October and November to select eight of the best competitors in each of NZYF’s seven regions.

Seven Regional Finals will be held early next year, where the winner from each will proceed to the Grand Final to battle it out for the 2022 FMG Young Farmer of the Year title in Whangarei, in July. . . 

Totara Estate stonework repairs underway:

At Totara Estate and Clark’s Mill in Ōamaru, Allan Ward is the man behind the stonework, who keeps the buildings in good trim. He is currently working at Totara Estate repairing and replacing cracked and damaged limestone in the old men’s quarters.

Allan began working with stone aged 15, during his apprenticeship with Dunhouse Quarry, United Kingdom in the 1960s. He worked in the Orkney Islands, Germany, Canada and Scotland before emigrating to New Zealand in 1995.  

Allan notes that with stonework very little has changed in the tools or the techniques for centuries. “A craftsman who worked on the great cathedrals in Europe could walk onto a job now and the tools would be virtually the same,” he says.

Allan has a long history of keeping Totara Estate and Clark’s Mill in good repair. He repointed all of the Totara Estate buildings with traditional lime mortar in 2012 and gives Smokey Joes a traditional whitewash regularly. This year he repaired a stone garden wall at Clark’s Mill following the January floods. . . 

Growing push for national pet food laws – Chris McLennan:

Calls have intensified for Australia’s pet food industry to be regulated.

There are claims locally produced pet food has become a dumping ground for unwanted or suspect meats.

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has joined the campaign sparked by the death of more than 20 Victorian dogs who died after being fed toxic horse meat.

Australia’s vets have already teamed up with the RSPCA to push for action to regulate the industry. . . 


Rural round-up

15/08/2021

Farmer who supplies neighbours’ water says he’ll stop if forced to register  – Bonnie Flaws:

Tararua farmer Roger Barton​ supplies his lifestyle block neighbours with water when their rainwater tanks run low. He says it’s “neighbours being neighbours” and he doesn’t charge them.

“They’ve got two tanks and they manage that carefully and are generally fine. But if things get tight they run a hose pipe from our system overnight and over four or five nights the tank gets filled. They don’t have to get the water truck out.”

The water comes from a creek at the fringe of the Tararua ranges. Barton does not treat his water, but uses a filter. His neighbours had an ultraviolet treatment system because they were reliant on rainwater, and this would also treat Barton’s water.

“I think that is fine, sane and sensible. Why I should have to treat it before they receive it I do not know.” . .

200 exemptions for dairy workers took at best – Jason Herrick:

I have been working behind the scenes and in the media around staff shortages and reuniting families of our migrant staff in my sector.

I do this because I see it as part of my responsibility I choose to take on as sharemilker Chair for Southland Federated Farmers,  trying to get the government to see sense and allow staff to come to NZ to fill much-needed roles.

Alongside heaps of others, the government said yes to was the 200 exemptions for dairy workers and their families, I see this as token at best, a gesture to keep us quiet – because they put conditions on the exemptions that have kept the likes of Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ and MPI busy to negotiate better conditions. . .

Groundswell NZ presents petition on ‘unworkable’ regulations to parliament – Laura Hooper:

A Groundswell NZ co-founder has presented the group’s petition against what it calls “unworkable regulations’’ for farmers to the Government.

Last month, Groundswell NZ took to the streets alongside thousands of supporters in around 50 towns across New Zealand to protest against regulations, including compulsory sowing dates, winter grazing rules and the “ute tax”.

On Thursday, group co-founder Laurence Paterson and Rural Advocacy Network chairman Jamie McFadden presented a petition, calling for a review of some regulations, to the Environment select committee.

The petition originally began to call for a review of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, which the group says applies a “one-size-fits-all” approach on sowing dates, winter grazing and best catchment practises. . .

 

Push for govt  incentives to producebio-fuel from local forestry waste – Jonathan Milne:

Warnings that existing ethanol-blended biofuels can’t be used in most storage tanks and pipelines – so new Sustainable Biofuel Mandate will come at a cost.

The clock is ticking at Marsden Point oil refinery. Chief executive Naomi James says they have mere months to reach agreement on converting the refinery to a biofuels production facility, for local forestry waste, before they are forced to begin laying off staff and decommissioning plant.

Energy Minister Megan Woods has expressed interest in the potential to convert the refinery to biofuel production, and James confirms they are in talks with government. But they need quick decisions because once they lose skilled engineers, they won’t be coming back; once they decommission big plant like the hydro-treater unit, there is no turning back.

James confirmed that in its submission on the planned Sustainable Biofuel Mandate, Refining NZ is arguing for government incentives for domestic biofuel production, like grants or Emissions Trading Scheme exemptions. . .

KiwiSaver provider Booster invests over $10m into avocado grower Darling Group – Tamsyn Parker:

The private equity investment arm of KiwiSaver provider Booster has invested more than $10 million into buying a 42 per cent stake in Katikati-based avocado grower and exporter Darling Group.

Booster, which has around $3 billion invested in its KiwiSaver scheme and is the 10th largest provider, is one of the few KiwiSaver schemes which invests in unlisted private companies through its Tahi LP fund.

Private company investment offers the potential for higher returns but are also a less liquid investment as their shares are not traded on a public market making it harder to sell out quickly.

Tahi already owns a number of wineries, as well as having stakes in Sunchaser Avocados, Dodson Motorsport and financial services company Lifetime. . . 

Livestock farm working dogs in Australia and New Zealand tested in Cobber Challenge – Chris McLennan and Daina Oliver:

The endurance athletes of Australia’s sprawling livestock farms are battling it out to claim the title of 2021 champion working dog.

Over three weeks, 12 loyal canines will run hundreds of kilometres in the course of their daily jobs herding sheep and cattle.

The Cobber Challenge celebrates and tests the endurance of working dogs and this year, for the first time, the Australians will be pitted against competitors working across the Tasman.

GPS collars will track their distance, working duration and speed over 21 days from Monday, August 16 and points will be awarded based on daily activity. . .


Rural round-up

10/08/2021

Staff short as calving begins – David Hill:

Immigration restrictions are continuing to be a headache as calving starts in North Canterbury.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury senior vice-president Rebecca Green said she had endured a 60-day wait to get a farm worker approved by Immigration New Zealand to work on the Cheviot farm she contract milks with husband Blair, after no locals applied for the position.

On the positive side, the Government’s relaxing of visa rules meant a farm worker they already employed has had his visa extended from 12 to 24 months, ‘‘which is really great’’, she said.

‘‘It’s tough for a lot of people. It’s just very stressful and very hard for my husband and our workers who are having to carry the extra load. . . 

Farmer confidence holds but workers concerns deepens:

The latest Federated Farmers Farm Confidence Survey shows positiveness around economic conditions but deepening concern about the ability to plug workforce gaps.

The survey, carried out by Research First in early July and drawing responses from 1,422 farmers, showed a net 18% of respondents considered the current economic conditions to be ‘good’. That’s a 12.4 point improvement from the survey six months earlier and 46 points better than a year ago after the economy was slammed by the pandemic.

Looking forward, a net 39% of farmers expected general economic conditions to worsen over the next 12 months, but that was actually a 5-point improvement on the January survey result.

“The survey was a month ago now and I think farmers were feeling buoyed by strong commodity prices,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard said. . . 

We need to bridge the urban-rural divide – Nadia Lim:

Two generations ago, most New Zealanders had some connection to farming or the land through close or extended family.

My maternal grandmother was a dairy herd tester, for example. In 2021, though, most of us are almost completely detached from the realities of producing food at scale. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why there’s such a huge rural-urban divide, and why farmers feel so under attack (as shown by the recent protests).

My husband and I regularly talk to farmers and growers, young and old, involved in horticulture, cropping and livestock. Whether they are more traditional or progressive, the main frustration is not the “why” something should be done – everyone, bar a few stubborn ones, agree on our country’s environmental issues. It’s the “how” that they’re frustrated about.

The crux of it is that farmers feel they’re being made to be entirely responsible for reversing our environmental problems, in a comparatively very short space of time, with what they feel are unworkable solutions. . .

Growing the world’s most expensive spice in New Zealand – Olivia Sisson:

The laborious hand-harvesting process that makes saffron so pricey hasn’t put off some enterprising growers in Aotearoa. Olivia Sisson pays a visit to a saffron operation in Canterbury.

When rapper 2 Chainz asked this business to make pickles for his show Most Expensivest Things, they put heaps of saffron in the brine.

Saffron is the world’s priciest spice. According to Business Insider, one kilo costs about $NZ15,000. Half-gram containers at New World set you back $10.

So what is saffron and why is it so dear? The MasterFoods packaging offers no answers. . . 

Ambitious waterway plan evolving – Sally Rae:

The green light has been pushed on the Tiaki Maniototo — Protection Maniototo project which will receive $4.55 million funding from the Freshwater Improvement Fund over the next five years, as part of the Jobs for Nature programme. Rural editor Sally Rae talks to project manager Morgan Trotter about what the project entails.

When he reflects on his rural upbringing, Morgan Trotter acknowledges it was a privileged childhood.

Trotters Gorge, near Moeraki, was named after his family and he could often be found playing in Trotters Creek, fishing and eeling, or chasing ducks.

The area comprised lots of farming and fishing families and the vibrant community centred on the local primary school at Moeraki. But the advent of drought, Rogernomics and changes in Government regulations in the 1980s caused a lot of small businesses to fall over, and the school to close. . . 

The trick to feeding ‘weed’ to sheep and not make them dopey – Chris McLennan:

Scientists are trying to find a cannabis plant which does not make sheep high.

Or at least making sure the eating of their flesh does not pass on those famous traits if they have been grazing on it.

Already trials in Western Australia and New South Wales found industrial hemp has shown promise as a summer crop for livestock such as sheep and cattle.

Scientists have been feeding cannabis from WA to a trial flock of 15 Merinos in NSW to discover how much of the psychoactive compound which induces the high ends up in their meat. . . 

 


Rural round-up

05/05/2021

Covid 19 coronavirus: Hawke’s Bay farms short of specialist skilled workers – Sahiban Hyde:

Farms in Hawke’s Bay are at risk of staff fatigue as they struggle with a shortage of specialist skilled workers, says Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers president.

This follows the decision of the Productivity Commission to hold an inquiry into our current immigration settings.

The inquiry will sit alongside existing changes planned by Immigration, including the implementation of reforms to temporary work visas and a review of the Skilled Migrant Category visa.

Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay president Jim Galloway said the closure of the border because of Covid-19 has seen roles typically filled by specialist skilled workers, relegated to inexperienced staff. . . 

We’ll pick ’em all – Peter Burke:

Kiwifruit is just too valuable not to be picked and despite the challenges of labour and weather, it will be picked.

That’s the message from the Kiwifruit Growers organisation (NZKGI) chief executive Nikki Johnson, who says wet weather and the late maturity of the fruit has slowed down picking. She told Hort News that some employers are faring better than others, which is consistent with other years, and there are still vacancies across packhouse and orchard roles – particularly for nightshift and weekend work.

“While there is a shortage of seasonal labour, we are focused on ensuring that all kiwifruit will be picked and packed this season. A shortage of labour may mean that managers need to be more selective about when particular fruit gets picked and packed,” Johnson says.

“People may also need to work longer shifts. However, the industry is extremely focused on ensuring that all kiwifruit is harvested. It is a high value crop, contributing around $2 billion to New Zealand’s kiwifruit regions in 2020.” . . 

Fruitful 10 years for avocado boss – Sudesh Kissun:

New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular has overseen the industry almost treble in value during the past 10 years. Scoular recently completed her 10th year as head of industry-good organisation NZ Avocado.

She and her team have helped guide the industry’s value growth from $68 million in 2011 to a forecast $200m in 2021.

She told Hort News that another achievement for her and the team was gaining crown funding for the first horticulture Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) to enable a step change in the industry. Scoular adds that NZ winning the rights to host the 2023 World Avocado Congress is another feather in her team’s cap.

She says the industry has also worked collaboratively to gain market access and to start exporting to China and India, two of the world’s largest economies. . . 

 

Family of farmers loving living the high life – David Hill:

A passion for farming is the secret to running a high country station, Annabel Tripp says.

Having lived all her life at Snowdon Station, north of Rakaia Gorge, Ms Tripp said there was no disadvantage to being a woman in the high country.

“It’s probably no different from being a man in the high country, really. It’s just about what your passion is, I guess.

“It’s really important that if you’re doing something, that you enjoy it and also that you try to do it to the best of your ability. . . 

Retirement a work in progress – Alice Scott:

Pat Suddaby says he might be retired but he’ll never stop working.

Since selling their 570ha sheep and beef farm in Hindon, near Outram, in 2010, Mr Suddaby and his wife Mary have ensured they have kept busy and active.

Mr Suddaby can be found these days working as a greenkeeper at the Middlemarch Golf Club and he is also an active member of the Strath Taieri Lions Club.

When the farm was sold, there was an adjustment period, Mr Suddaby said. . . 

 

Time the national beef herd’s facts were actually heard – Chris McLennan;

The Australian beef industry is already tired of being told their message of sustainability is not being heard.

But they have been reassured when they finally make headway against the anti-meat lobby, they will have transparency and truth on their side.

Australia’s beef industry has been patiently gathering key facts from individual farms for years.

Experts say all this data will be vital when the time is ripe to lay all the facts out before the public, the good, bad and the ugly. . . 


Rural round-up

10/04/2021

Covid-19 coronavirus: Orchardists plead for Pacific Island travel bubble – Christian Fuller:

Orchardists say more than $600m is set to be lost to from regional economies like Hawke’s Bay’s as a result of the massive shortage of workers to pick fruit.

The region’s orchardists, exporters and growers reliant on seasonal work say they’ve worked through the season with “anxiety and desperation beyond belief”.

And they are calling on the Government to open a travel bubble with the Pacific islands to allow the free flow of what would normally be up to 14,410 workers arriving as part of the recognised seasonal employer scheme, in time for the 2022 season.

Thousands of tonnes of fruit is now being left on trees in Hawke’s Bay. . . 

NZ Pork slams blanket emissions policy – Annette Scott:

The pork industry is calling for the Government to recognise a different emissions policy approach for pigs.

In its submission to the Climate Change Commission (CCC), NZ Pork says a one-size-fits-all approach for livestock does not take into account non-ruminant livestock such as pigs.

New Zealand Pork chief executive David Baines says the unique nature of the pork industry in NZ means policy designed for the pastoral sector and ruminant livestock will not necessarily be the most effective means of facilitating emissions reductions from farmed pigs.

While welcoming many of the recommendations in the CCC’s draft advice to the Government, he says a blanket policy could disproportionately impact NZ pig farmers. . . 

Saleyards a magnet for Knight – Shawn McAvinue:

A retired trucking company owner continues to visit a stock sale in Central Otago to have “a nosey” and shout smoko.

Forbes Knight (89) first visited the Mt Benger Saleyards near Roxburgh after buying trucking company Millers Flat Carrying Company in 1954, aged 22.

Mr Knight, of Millers Flat, said in the 1950s, the footprint of the saleyards was much bigger and stretched across both sides of Teviot Rd.

The stock inside the pens were skinnier then because of a rampant rabbit population eating their feed. . . 

Plant production Young Achiever back for 2021:

Entries open now – are you the next plant producers Young Achiever?

NZ Plant Producers is very pleased to announce that the Young Achiever of the Year competition is back for 2021.

After being forced to cancel in 2020, the next competition will be held on July 14-15, at Growing Spectrum, Hamilton.

Young Achiever allows young people involved in plant production to gain an entry to the prestigious Young Horticulturalist of the Year competition. Entrants are tested on their practical industry skills, knowledge, and public speaking. . . 

Young chef wins ambassador award :

Even before his most recent win a few weeks ago, there was no doubt Sam Heaven was a young chef going places.

Despite border closures late last year, he won the Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award for best chef in Australia and New Zealand aged under 25 in a virtual grand final cook-off.

After winning the title Heaven, 23, who works at the Park Hyatt in Auckland, thought that was it for competitions.

“After that last one I thought ‘that’s it, I’ve done heaps, it’s time to focus on my career’,” Heaven said. . . 

Debate over dingo versus wild dog, does the name matter – Chris McLennan:

Scientists who insist virtually all wild dogs are actually dingoes say the term was adopted because it was easier to sell.

They say “killing wild dogs is more palatable than killing dingoes”.

Wild dogs may be fair game for baiting, shooting and trapping programs run by landholders and governments, dingoes are often not.

Wild dogs are estimate to cost Australian agriculture more than $100 million annually. . . 


Rural round-up

09/04/2021

Federated Farmers sees MIQ opportunity for agriculture:

Federated Farmers hopes that the Government will take the opportunity of newly available space in MIQ quarantine to bring much-needed workers for the primary industries into New Zealand.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins estimates that the Australian quarantine-free travel bubble will free up 1000 to 1300 beds in MIQ a fortnight.

“MIQ spacing has been continually quoted as a barrier for getting the workers we need. With more beds becoming available it should now allow those with agricultural skills to enter the country,” Federated Farmers Immigration Spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“With continued low unemployment and the majority of available workers remaining in the urban centres, all of the primary industries are crying out for labour.” . . 

Farmers take up resilience planning for future droughts – Hugh Cameron:

While the country may be heading into winter, the impact of another dry summer is fresh on the minds of some farmers. Some hit by drought say there are steps that can be taken to ease the pressure and planning should start now.

Parts of the Far North were once again hit by meteorological drought this summer. While it wasn’t as severe as the previous summer’s big dry that hit much of the country, it was a set-back for farmers, who were hoping to rebuild feed reserves and make a full recovery.

Chairperson of the Northland Rural Support Trust, Chris Neill, believed drought planning would become even more critical in the future. He encouraged farmers to make a risk management plan that gave them options when tough conditions hit again.

“I think there were some lessons learned last year, in fact there were a lot of lessons learned last year, about being prepared for these dry conditions given the predictions around changes in climate,” Neill said. . . 

A wave of cash is about to transform the agri market – Andrew Lamming:

We are in very interesting times right now.

There are some big forces about to play out in the main trading banks operating in New Zealand. We believe this will culminate into a wave of capital that the Agri sector hasn’t seen for the past 5-7 years.

That wave of capital coming to the Agri sector is going to have some interesting effects on asset values, funding costs and decision making. . .

New Zealand Shears – the show finally on the road:

Organisers of the New Zealand Shears are breathing a sigh of relief as they bounce-back from the cancellation of last year’s event to stage the 2021 championships starting in Te Kuiti tomorrow(Thursday).

More than 200 shearers and woolhandlers will compete in the three-day championships, which 12 months ago became one of the early casualties of the 2021 Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown – called-off for the first time since the New Zealand championships were resurrected initially as the new King Country Shears in 1985.

While a Level 2 alert which cancelled this year’s Golden Shears in Masterton at just four days’ notice a month ago sent shivers up the spines of every event organiser in New Zealand, New Zealand Shears president Claire Grainger said her committee was determined to go ahead, including discussing how it could if the alert had remained in place. . . 

Aussie shearers called to help out in UK but pandemic rules still a worry – Chris McLennan:

Australian and New Zealand shearers have now been given a special exemption to travel to the United Kingdom to help solve their shearer crisis.

Shearers are in demand across the world from pandemic bans on international travel.

Australia has a crisis of its own with the ban on New Zealand shearers traveling across the ditch during the pandemic.

Now international sheep shearing contractors have been given a special concession to travel into the UK. . . 

Freehold high country a rare find:

Extensive freehold station properties are a rare find in New Zealand today, and one’s offering multiple income opportunities even rarer.

Glazebrook Station, located 46km up the Waihopai River valley in Marlborough has a hard-won reputation as a superb hunting property offering international standard game hunting opportunities located approximately one hour from Blenheim airport.

Positioned in the river valley with sweeping high country that runs to 1,600m above sea level, the station’s landscape typifies the iconic vistas that are central to the southern psyche.

Bayleys Canterbury salesperson Garry Ottmann says purchase of the 8,877ha freehold property would mark a rare claim in today’s property market. . . 


Rural round-up

05/04/2021

CCC submissions flood in – Neal Wallace:

Methane reduction targets remain a contentious issue for the livestock sector, which is critical of Climate Change Commission recommendations for an even steeper reduction pathway than proposed in the Zero Carbon Act.

Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are labelling the proposed new targets as unrealistic and not backed by robust science, economic or farm system analysis.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the revised target is a 13.2% reduction in biogenic methane emissions below 2017 levels by 2030.

“This represents a 32% increase in the level of ambition compared to the 2030 biogenic methane target contained in the Zero Carbon Act, which is to reduce methane emissions to 10% below 2017 levels by 2030,” McIvor said. . . 

Smith to push for more automation in the hort sector – Peter Burke:

More automation in orchards – that’s what Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director general Ray Smith says he’s going to push hard for in the coming 12 months.

He told Rural News that there is real growth in horticulture and the opportunity for more, but New Zealand as not solved the labour supply problem.

“Too much of the horticultural industry has been built off the back of immigrant labour and the risk of that is what we see now,” Smith says.

“If anything goes wrong with that supply chain of workers then you have massive problems. That is why there is a need for the investment in automation and we want to see this directed to what can be done in orchards.”

Milking shed ravaged by fire, community spirit gets farmers back up and running – Joanne Holden:

A South Canterbury farmer whose milking shed, built by his father, was ravaged by fire has got his dairy operation back on track, with a little help from his friends.

The 30-year-old Waitohi milking shed was “fully ablaze” when Hamish Pearse, and five of his staff, grabbed a fire hose each and attacked the flames, keeping them at bay until the fire brigade arrived with five appliances about 20 minutes later.

“The staff were pretty shaken up by the whole thing,” Pearse, of Waitohi, said.

“My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself . . . He came back to see his pride and joy burnt down.” . . 

Synlait ponders lack of profit – Hugh Stringleman:

Synlait may not make a profit this financial year because of sharply reduced orders from a2 Milk Company for packaged infant formula, rising dairy commodity prices and global shipping delays.

At the start of the season Synlait directors expected net profit in FY21 to be similar to last year’s $75 million, then in December they said net profit would be approximately half that of FY20.

They have now said the anticipated result for FY21 will be “broadly breakeven”, which includes the possibility of no profit overall and a small loss in the second half, which is already two months old.

When releasing its first-half results, Synlait said the December downgrade from major customer and minority shareholder a2MC was significant and sudden. . . 

Wyeth’s move west welcomed – Peter Burke:

A few weeks ago, Richard Wyeth took over as chief executive of Yili-owned Westland Milk Products and says his first impressions of the company and its people are positive.

It was only a few months ago he was head of the highly successful Maori-owned dairy company Miraka – a company he helped set up from scratch.

However, Wyeth says he’s really enjoying the new job at Westland and what’s really impressed him is the people in the business.

“There is a really strong desire to see the business do well and people are working really hard to do this,” he told Rural News. . . 

Scientists are testing vaccines for flystrike – Chris McLennan:

Scientists believe they are closing in on a commercial vaccine for flystrike.

Prototype vaccines have already been developed half way through a four-year $2.5 million research project between the wool industry and CSIRO.

A potential vaccine against flystrike has been the subject of decades of research work.

Blowfly infestation of sheep wool, skin and tissue results in an estimated $280 million losses to the wool industry. . . 


Rural round-up

29/03/2021

 Reduced foreign Labour in New Zealand fields failed experiment – Kate MacNamara:

It’s time to call New Zealand’s experiment in reduced foreign labour this harvest season a failure.

One of the country’s largest berry farmers has abandoned growing after a season of chronic labour shortage. Apple growers say they’re so shorthanded that exports will drop some 14 per cent this year, a loss of $95-$100 million. The grape harvest has come off with the help of more machinery, a tradeoff that’s likely to result in less premium wine. And growers estimate they’re still 1400 hires shy of the 4000 workers needed for grape cane pruning in Marlborough next month, the country’s most valuable wine region.

Perhaps the Government’s original idea sounded good in theory: redeploy the rump of seasonal foreign workers who remained stranded in New Zealand from the previous season, update working conditions for the few remaining backpackers, and make up the rest of the workforce from local Kiwis.

But if you add a few numbers, that calculation was always heroic. The need for seasonal hands through New Zealand’s harvest and pruning work approaches 40,000 in the peak summer and early autumn months. Before Covid, Immigration NZ anticipated that 14,500 Pacific workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme and some 50,000 backpackers with working holiday visas would help to make up the labour force. But New Zealand’s closed border changed that. . . 

Orchard work shortage bites – Jared Morgan:

Some workers sent to Central Otago’s orchards and vineyards are not up to standard and the lack of seasonal workers from the Pacific is beginning to bite, an industry leader says.

Continuing labour shortages across both sectors have affected planning for key phases in production cycles such as picking and pruning.

This has led to calls for the Government to open quarantine-free travel bubbles to allow seasonal workers from Covid-free countries to plug labour gaps before it is too late, if not for this season then the next.

Pipfruit industry pioneer Con van der Voort, who operates a major packing facility in Ettrick, said the “come and go” nature of this season’s workforce was affecting orchardists not just in Central Otago but nationally. . . 

NZ’s potato chip industry threatened by cheap European imports – Sally Blundell:

The impact of Covid-19 on the potato chip industry in the Northern Hemisphere is putting locally grown and processed hot potato chips at the local chippie under threat.

The problem is that quiet streets and empty bars in Covid-ridden Europe have resulted in an estimated 1.7 million tonne surplus of raw potato material.

“People can’t go out, have a beer and buy some chips,” Potatoes NZ chief executive Chris Claridge told Frank Film in a recent interview. “That means there’s a big lump of frozen fries that’s got to go somewhere. Our economy’s working, they are sending it here – it is as simple as that.”

Claridge is looking for government action to protect New Zealand potato farmers from the influx of frozen fries grown and processed in Europe undercutting their locally grown equivalent. . . 

‘Milking cows is the easy part now’ – Sally Rae:

South Otago dairy farmers Scott and Ann Henderson were last week crowned Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners. They talk to Sally Rae about a career they say is not just about milking cows. 

She was from a sheep and beef farm in Scotland, he was a qualified carpenter from Balclutha.

Scott and Ann Henderson might not have grown up in the dairy farming industry, but the pair have made their mark on the sector, winning the 2021 Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year title.

Industry recognition was not new for Mrs Henderson, who won the dairy manager of the year in the Southland-Otago awards in 2017, having finished runner-up the year before. . . 

Happy to be farming hops – Country Life:

Harvesting is the busiest time of the year for Holmdale Farm’s Cameron Ealam and his extended family.

They work from dawn to dusk picking, cleaning and drying several varieties of aromatic hop cones that grow on long leafy hop vines.

“The machine starts at seven each morning. We’re doing 12-hour days picking at the moment. The drying kiln will run through the night as well, so big days but (it’s) a short window to get a valuable crop in,” Cameron says.

On the floor behind the kilns are large piles of Motueka and Riwaka hop cones, waiting to be pressed and baled. . . 

Call for long-time enemies cotton and wool to join forces to push enviro credentials – Chris McLennan:

Long-time market enemies, the wool and cotton industries are looking to join forces globally to take on synthetic fibres.

Wool and cotton believe they both have the same eco-friendly credentials to challenge for better environmental ratings in Europe.

They want to form an alliance to champion the benefits of natural fibres as offering many solutions to the world’s current environmental challenges.

A wool industry leader entered uncharted waters when invited to speak to an international cotton conference in Bremen last week. . . 


Rural round-up

06/02/2021

Climate change: farmers should remain calm – Todd Muller:

National’s trade spokesman Todd Muller has advice for Kiwi farmers who may be concerned by the Climate Change report – remain calm.

“I think farmers in New Zealand should take a deep breath,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

The draft advice, released yesterday by the Climate Change Commission, said New Zealand would need to cut livestock numbers by around 15 per cent, halt conventional car imports, decarbonise the energy sector and move Kiwis into electric vehicles – all within 14 years.

In order to hit ambitious greenhouse gas targets, the report also suggested an end to coal heating and more forestry. . . 

Climate change report: Focus on tourism not farming – Jim Hopkins:

If the government was serious about climate change it would curb tourism rather than agriculture, rural commentator Jim Hopkins says.

“They would say tourism’s off the table. Not for 12 months, but for 12 years – or longer – until the planet’s cooled down and we’re all happy again,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Last week research showed that New Zealand dairy was the most emissions efficient in the world, something that the government should be promoting, rather than trying to reduce, Hopkins said.

He also disagreed with the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice on New Zealand cutting livestock numbers by 15 per cent to reach its ambitious greenhouse gas targets. . . 

Why open farm days matter – Daniel Eb:

Tell our story. That’s a line we hear a lot in farming these days. It’s supposed to be the way that rural New Zealand reconnects with urban Kiwis. How we bridge the divide. But as a marketing guy, I’m not so sure.

Farmer’s stories are everywhere. This very paper is full of them, Country Calendar’s ratings are unbeatable and the NZ Farming Facebook page is one of the country’s largest.

But it’s not enough.

To genuinely connect with people, to make the things that are important to you important to them, farmer storytelling needs to go offline. Videos, news articles and social media play an important role, but they can’t change behaviour alone. . . 

Ngāti Kahungunu joins Ngāi Tahu freshwater court action:

Two powerful iwi, Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu, both of the Tākitimu waka, have joined forces in legal proceedings against the Crown.

Ngāti Kahungunu, the country’s third largest iwi, is working with Ngāi Tahu to have the tribe’s rangatiratanga over freshwater recognised, including the Mohaka River in Hawke’s Bay.

Ngāti Kahungunu, like Ngāi Tahu, has seen the traditional waterways and water bodies in its rohe degraded over time through government inaction, overallocation, and lack of environmental protections, including the 2016 Havelock North waterborne disease outbreak. . . 

Sustainably produced beef patties to become new normal:

It’s possible to produce a beef patty sustainably across the supply chain in New Zealand, a year-long trial has shown.

Key players in the red meat industry partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund to develop a model for producing independently verified sustainable beef through the entire supply chain. The project aimed to help meet the growing demand for ethically sourced and sustainable products.

“The project showed that New Zealand can do this, and the model can be scaled up – so this really is an encouraging milestone,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s Director Investment Programmes. “It provides transparency to customers and the public in a way that hasn’t been possible before.” . . 

DIY shearing seen by some farmers as a quick-fix to shortage – Chris McLennan:

A move by some farmers to cut through the shearer shortage by doing the work themselves has been described as a Band-Aid.

Shearing equipment suppliers from around the country are fielding increased calls from woolgrowers chasing gear with electric handpieces, cutters and combs the popular pick.

Industry leaders say the move is unsurprising given the shortage of shearers, chiefly caused by the loss of New Zealand shearers through the pandemic.

But those same leaders say the pandemic has exposed the industry’s shortcomings. . . 


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